What Have I Been Up To? ClarionFolk and Tafres, Plus More

Over the last week I’ve finally launched two important sites.


Clarion Folk is my new site for .. Clarion. As the Tech Evangelist, I needed a web presence. I wasn’t prepared to create one without having the site public.

So now it is, I’ve been starting to branch out, commenting on blogs, posting on news. This will hopefully be a good enough start to leverage the public awareness of Clarion.


Tafres is my first ever piece of Clarion software. I wrote it a long while ago, but it recently started receiving attention, and so I in turn gave it more attention.

It’s a Freight System. Manages Loads that go from Origin to Destination with a Commodity. That kind of thing.

Other than that, life is full as per usual.

Tafres, Security, Automatic Updating, and Online Activation

Last night I successfully got both the Tafres Client _and_ Server to a stage where each of them:

– Checks for updates over the web on startup. If one exists, that is a greater version number by it’s logic, it will ask to download. Once the download is finished, it will ask to install. There is an issue with the Client because it asks to "exit" the program. The update logic works best when the program can shut down silently. Will have to do something about that. Anyway, the installer runs and updates.

– Runs a 10 Day Trial. I haven’t yet worked out whether the 10 day trial will always just happen, or whether the user will need to get the activation code online to get the 10 day trial. Never the less, at the moment, both can be done.

– Allows for the the retrieval of an Activation Code (part of the Licensing information needed) over the internet. This is done using Secwin Online Server, and Secwin.

This is very cool. In terms of support, you want these two things in place before going out into the big bad world. I need my product secure. But it needs to be trialled. It also needs to be updated as painlessly as possible. I’m getting there with the current solution, although there will be some tweaking I can already see.

Along with this, using SetupBuilder I now have the process of creating Installs and Updates working pretty well.

– the file structure is <Product Name>\\<Version>\\ … then in that folder, I have both the Install and Update SetupBuilder files. Also, these folders: <source>, <external source>, and the two that are created by the SB files themselves, which store the Install and Update respectively.

– the updated files (of mine) go in <source>.

– any changes to 3rd Party or stock Clarion files (dlls) go in <external source> (these are used for the Update logic).

– Open up the Install file, change the [DEVFOLDER] value in the script section. Obviously, this is giving SB a base folder to work from. Practically, I just change the version number.

– If I’ve added new functionality that requires new DLLs, I run a static scan on my exe(s), done in the top panel of SB. This adds any new dependencies.

– Compile.

– Open the Update file (close the Install). Change the [DEVFOLDER] value.

– If any changes to 3rd-Party or Clarion DLLs, run the "Project->Task Automation->Perform Auto Update Scan .." action, and check the differences between the <external source> folder in the current version folder against the previous version folder. This adds any changed DLLs to the project.

– If any new dependencies have been added, I run a static scan on the exe (as in the Install).

– The main exe will already be in the Application Folder, with a  "patch" moniker. I open the file’s details in SB and change both the source and patch folders (change the Version number) to reflect the new versions.

– Compile the Update. This takes a little while longer than the Install, but not much. A very nice and small (if only changes in the main exe for example) Update exe.

– I then update the XML file in the <TafresClient-Update> folder (SB creates a folder with the same name as the SB file itself to store the builds in) to reflect the new version number.

– Now it’s time for uploading the Update exe and xml files to the ftp site that Safe Update looks at. Done.

– Finally, I upload the Install.

– I’ve kept my Install and Update filenames generic. I started out sticking the version number in them, for visual reference, but too many things would have been harder. Safe Update, Changing more stuff each time in SB. Generic names keeps the process streamlined. It also means there is only one set of files on the server, not one for each version.

Phew. That’s quite a post. I think I need to spend some time doing this with screenies and wotnot. Might be helpful. I’m planning to do a bunch of stuff for the new Clarion site, and these pieces of development functionality will go in as tutorials at some stage. So probably won’t do it again here.

Another Day, Another .. 5 Cents

Almost forgot my desire to get posting most every day.

Things that happened today:

  • Got some nice work done on the Tafres site (local at the moment), didn’t get enough to put it live, hopefully tomorrow night.
  • Almost got a digital certificate installed, finally, so i can fire up SafeUpdate properly.
  • Had an intense morning at work, squashing bugs hand-in-hand with a very tenacious (good) tester.
  • Got absolutely POWNED by my eldest playing Bomb Battles in Mario Kart, Double Dash. He’s just getting better and better. Can’t wait for the day he’s old enough to start playing some rpgs and wotnot with me.
  • Thought about the next Jaymoe build, but got scared because it’s not coming together like I want it. Need to simplify. Break stuff down.
  • Did some cool work on branding Tafres. The two (Server and Client) icons are now very nicely branded. Also, got one of those favicon.gif’s for the website. Should be cool.
  • Another hour on the exercise bike. Really started to hurt towards the end. My posterior was hurting much.
  • Haven’t managed to play any games, but .. now .. thinking .. i’m off :).

What’s Doing

Okay. I’m very trashed. Going to just list a random order of things happening lately.

– played a bit of WoW again, finally. Missed the crack-e-ness.

– played a very tiny bit of the Witcher with the new patch that lessens load times. Made it much more enjoyable. Will have to continue with that.

– movement on the Tech Evangelist role for SV (Clarion).

– decided on a revamp for Pimp My Clarion, as of now going to create it in NetTalk, host it myself.

– got the web server and basic web system functionality into the Freight system.

– almost got the Tafres (Freight System) web site finished and ready to launch. Just need to fill in some of the content.

– working on a new patch for Jaymoe. Still trying to do too much though. Changing the UI. It’s not going to happen easily or quickly. Going to have to work out which way to go.

– a new beta of Dr. Explain came out. Looking forward to getting stuck into the added features.

– actual work is getting pretty convoluted. I took some initiative and started assuming the role of Team Leader for my project. Noone has corrected my assumption yet, although had to deal with some wierdness.

– read some interesting stuff about Ruby on Rails .. 1. here and 2. here. Well, the second link has a more global topic. Warning .. Extreme Language, specially in the Zed rant. But very interesting. It sounds like a complicated mess, with massive egos and guys who don’t know much about programming, and guys who do, all fighting together over important and not-so-important stuff. Which is of course a global and lame statement. Ha ha. If you want to find out about what’s going on in the Rails community .. read Zed’s rant.

– Sword of Shadows (JVJ’s site) came out! Read it asap and loved it. This series is one of my all time favourites. Got one of the most awesome fantasy quotes ever. "Kill an army for me Raif Sevrance. Any less and I might just call you back."

– almost finished watching Heroes Series 1 through again. Just finished "Five Years Gone" last night while exercising.

– Exercising like a maniac on the bike we got as a combined christmas pressie. 30 mins to 1 hour a night, 5-7 nights a week. It’s crazy. But awesome because you can do it in front of the telly. Ahhhh. However, really cuts into .. well .. time.

That’s enough for now. Regular updates will hopefully be more .. regular.

Time Keeps On Slipping

Thought I’d just give a brief rundown on what I’ve been doing the last week or so, apart from scribing down news of Clarion 7.

Projman has a new version on the way, soooon. There’s been a couple of cosmetic changes, at least one important functionality change, and the Documentation has begun! It’s a cool little bit of funcitonality in and of itself. Not finished yet, lots of ideas for improvements, but my goal is to get the User Guide scratched together and put the version up for use.

The other major project I’ve been working on is my Freight System (don’t mind the site, it’s also undergoing a lot of upgrading). I’m creating an upgrade system that will be transferable across all my projects, and it’s really quite exciting. Most of the work is done by NetTalk, what a wonderful tool!

In essence, it’s nothing new, developers have been doing this for long time long. The TAFRES Server connects to the FTP Server, and runs some logic to determine what new version installations are on the FTP Server for both the TAFRES Server and the TAFRES Client. These are then downloaded. If there is a TAFRES Server upgrade, all Clients are informed, and closed down, and then the Server is shutdown and a silent installation is run. If there is a Client upgrade (if a Server too, the Server runs first), the Clients are told to shutdown and restart (not sure if this will be automatic or manual). On restarting, the silent installation is run.

The last part of this is still not finished. I’m in the middle of it.

It’s an exciting time. Especially the update/upgrade (not sure which term to use yet) functionality. Once that’s down, then sending out updates will be so much easier than trying to explain to a client where to go to download, and then what to do with running an installation, on each client!

‘Nuff said for now,

I’m A Directory! See My Films, See My Films ..

.. Put my skillset to the test!

Last week I created a Demonstration Movie of my logistics/freight software for a prospective client.

The Archer Freight System, Initial Demonstration.

Wink was my capture software of choice again.

This time, I opted for a point-and-click method, as opposed to voice-over and no input. So the viewer has some interaction with the movie, and for non-techo people, it’s also probably a little easier to see the flow of the demonstration when they can control it.

I chose to use "Input Driven" capture, as opposed to "Timed". This was purely on a whim. Essentially, as the name would suggest, it takes a capture whenever keyboard or mouse input is detected.

At first, when editing, I ruled it a mistake. I was having trouble understanding why the program would just skip ahead. But then, as I began adding in frames to slow it down, I realised that for this kind of movie, it was actually a good choice. No voice, so you can directly control what gets added.

Of course, there’s quite a few issues with the movie. But it got me the client, so I’m happy for that.

Too, I hadn’t driven the system for over a year and a half. So my understanding of how it all worked was a little rusty.

Anyway, have a look at the video, tell me what you think.